1. Sedona, Arizona
What’s not to love about warm sunny days that effortlessly transition into cozy sweater-wearing nights? December can bring chilly evenings to Sedona. Fortunately, many hotels feature hot tubs and outdoor fire pits. Roast s’mores and sip local wine as you peer at the night sky. Sedona is a Dark Sky Community with exceptionally clear skies for stargazing, or you can don a pair of night-vision goggles and take an excursion with Sedona UFO & Vortex Tours.
Sedona has long drawn spiritual seekers, spa aficionados and outdoor adventurers. Those open to out-there experiences can indulge in aura readings, sound healing, forest bathing and more on offer at many of the local spa resorts, such as Mii amo or L’Auberge de Sedona. For those looking to hit the links, championship golf courses remain open year-round.
The region’s cathedral-like red rocks beg to be explored, which you can do via foot, pedal or Jeep. The downside to visiting this salubrious spot in winter? When it rains, the trails through the stunning spires can morph into mud, so feet and wheels can get stuck. But with an estimated 300 annual days of sunshine, you won’t be waiting long for trails to dry out.
Each December, Sedona comes alive with twinkling lights and festive events—not to mention discounted rates. Sedona Northern Lights takes place Dec. 13 to 16, and is the largest 3D holiday light show in the United States. Layer that with the Holiday Sweet Stroll plus Festival of Lights, and you’ll swear you’ve been transported back into A Christmas Carol.
2. Estes Park, Colorado
In February, this town has low-occupancy hotel rates and easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park—you’ll feel like the only one there. For a winter warmer, pop into Elkins distillery for a Colorado Mule made with white corn whisky.
3. Kimberley, B.C.
Ski under the stars on one of North America’s longest lit runs. Besides night skiing at Kimberley Alpine Resort, there’s ski-in ski-out accommodation and fewer crowds in January, making it easy to enjoy the slopes.
4. New York City, N.Y.
In January, take advantage of this city’s white sales and decreased hotel prices plus two-for-one tickets during NYC Broadway Week (Jan. 22 to Feb. 10), and prix-fixe menus during Restaurant Week (reservations open Jan. 7, for dining from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8).
[This story appears in the October 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine.]